Rain (Rules of Engagement #2)

Title: Rain (Rules of Engagement #2)
Author:  L.A. Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (100 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Summary Review: Brandon and Dustin navigate two years of being together and show that their love is the real deal.


Brandon Stewart and Dustin Walker started dating two years ago after meeting in the local bar over a game of pool. Dustin has struggled to come out to his homophobic family and come clean about his relationship with Brandon, and now they’re planning to get married. Now, in a bid to fix broken ties, Dustin’s brother Tristan is trying to reconnect with him, which makes Brandon wonder if he, too, can mend fences with his own estranged brother. But is sixteen years of silence long enough for old wounds to heal?

Rules of Engagement Series


Brandon and Dustin are back after Rules of Engagement reviewed here. This is the fifth book that I have reviewed by this author, with mixed results. There is no doubt that L.A. Witt is a talented and experienced author and I love her prose and dialogue, but sometimes I have difficulty with the insecurities and flip flopping of her characters. I was pleased to see  there was none of that here, the guys are still  in love and in lust and they are now engaged to be married, but they haven’t set a date for the wedding despite Brandon’s mother’s efforts to get them to the altar as soon as possible.

The story opens with Brandon getting an unexpected visitor at the college where he teaches, Dustin’s homophobic brother Tristan whom we met in Rules of Engagement. He was an unpleasant, over-the-top character in that book and I wondered if there was a chance at redemption in Rain. When Tristan showed up in Brandon’s office he was clearly uncomfortable and had difficulty meeting his eyes or talking to him, as if he couldn’t bear to be near someone who was gay. Eventually he stated his reason for seeking out Brandon – he wanted his brother to phone him. Obviously he thought that Dustin should do his bidding and it never occurred to him to pick up the phone and make the call himself. When Dustin found out about Tristan’s visit he was stressed out and it took him a while to calm down enough to call. They arranged to meet at their sister’s home and Dustin insisted that Brandon should be there, but would it go well? What about their mother who was even more homophobic than Tristan, if that were possible?

Brandon had his own problems. His brother Russell hadn’t spoken to him in 16 years since he came out, and he was obviously hard wired to his way of thinking that sex should only be between a man and a woman. When Brandon took a chance and decided to visit Russell, would there be a red carpet welcome from the brother he had missed for so long?

This book is aptly named. It rained throughout the story and at times I thought I would drown. The rain was used very effectively by L.A. Witt in setting the mood, and it was almost like another character at times because situations were made more sombre due to the weather conditions. Even driving through a rainstorm or standing on a balcony in the pouring rain was a clever use of the climate.

Rain is told in Brandon’s first person POV and I loved his ‘voice’. He was so much in love with Dustin that he was determined to protect him, even from his own family. His caring was evident as he helped Dustin through the stress of meeting Tristan again and their relationship seemed stronger because of all the difficulties they had faced from family members since they met. In Rules of Engagement Dustin was newly divorced from his unfaithful wife of 10 years and when he met Brandon in a bar the attraction was powerful and immediate. The intensity of their feelings for each other when they played a killer game of pool was palpable, but for Dustin, being attracted to Brandon was something he couldn’t understand because he had never been even the slightest bit interested in another man before. Throughout the book he struggled with his feelings.  At times the angst was too much for me as Dustin spent much of the latter one quarter of Rules of Engagement trying to figure out if he was gay, bisexual, in love with Brandon, or on the rebound.

In Rain there are no more doubts as Dustin is fully committed to and in love with  Brandon. Even Tristan saw that Dustin’s feelings were fully engaged when he made it clear that he was willing to walk away from half  his family because of his love for Brandon.

There were a few supporting characters that rounded out the cast who were just as well drawn as Brandon and Dustin – Brandon’s mother and his sister as well as Dustin’s sister and husband were a good foil to the other members of the family. The one niggle I had about the story was the insistence by both Dustin and Brandon that they were not gay but bi – I don’t know why this was important since there were no women in their lives other than family.

 In this sequel the author attempts to show how family relationships are broken because of intolerance and homophobia, and that sometimes ingrained prejudices can never be overcome because the only way to build a bridge was to burn another one. Rain was a reaffirmation of Dustin’s and Brandon’s love and I was very happy to see them 2 years later still in love and determined to fight for that love. I really liked this story but I missed the sexual tension and intensity in Rules of Engagement.

This is not a standalone book and I recommend that you read Rules of Engagement before Rain.  Definitely recommended.



  • Way late to the game here because I was having problems leaving comments, but to answer a couple of questions…

    Condoms: From talking to various guys who are or have been in committed, monogamous relationships, it pretty much boiled down to “some use them, some don’t.” I didn’t really think about it with Brandon and Dustin…just seemed like they would continue using them. 🙂

    Smirking: Yes, I got the message. lol It was one of those bad habits that I didn’t notice, but once it was pointed out to me, I keep an eye out for it. It’ll still show up in future books, but with decidedly less frequency now.

    Thank you, Wave, for the great review, and thank you to everyone who commented. I enjoyed revisiting Brandon and Dustin too, so I’m glad to hear from those who enjoyed another B&D story.

    • L. A. Witt
    • Thanks for commenting LA and I’m sorry you had problems leaving comments. Hopefully that’s all over now. 🙂

      We had a very interesting post on condoms a week ago by three male M/M writers who don’t believe in them, most of the time. It’s too bad you weren’t here to comment. It got quite heated. Those authors are real hotheads. lol

      • I tried to comment on that when it was first posted. Comment got eaten. lol Ah well. If I get a chance, I’ll swing by and throw in my two cents. 😀

        L. A.

  • I finally read this story and I really did like it. It was refreshing to see a not totally ok homo world. It felt more real if you know what I mean.
    Because it was short it felt more like an extended epilogue.

    Only niggle I had was why use condoms after 2 years of being together in a very committed and monogamous relationship?

  • I bought this book the day it came out because I really, really loved RoE (and you’re right, Wave, the sex was H-O-T in that book). It was a cute story and did wrap up a few loose ends that bugged me after reading RoE; however, I was a little disappointed that Rain is a novella. I don’t normally like novellas because I don’t feel like I get enough *story* (I loved that it was from Brandon’s POV but still felt like he had more to say!). And since I’m a fast reader, I was done reading this book in a couple of hours. At work, too, haha!

    Thanks for the review, Wave!

    • Hi Angelica

      Thanks for coming by and telling us how you felt about Rain. I did like the book but I missed the frantic pace, sexual ternsion and hot sex in RoE. Although I rated this book slightly higher because I had problems with the last 1/4 of RoE, (too much major indecision as well as angst that I thought was off the scale and way too much) I re-read parts of RoE last night and it’s really gripping in parts.

      Barry’s voice was different because he had no doubt that he was gay – he knew since he was a teenager, so I guess it was to be expected that his perspective would be quite different and more reasoned. Although not all the questions were answered I liked the way it ended, even though the book was short.
      You read Rain at work??? shame on you. 🙂

    • Linda
      You’ll really like Rain and it was great to be in Brandon’s head. L.A. did a great job of wrapping up all the loose ends in RoE so this is definitely a must read if you liked Rules of Engagement.

  • Great review, Wave! I had no idea a sequel to RoE was coming. I actually loved that book, probably even mostly because of the hesitation and second-guessing that you hated! It seemed logical for a guy who was about to turn his world upside down to freak out first. I’m putting this one on the Friday buy list! 🙂

    Oh, I noticed no mention of smirking. Is that under control in this one?

    • Hi Buda

      No smirking in this one. I guess I mentioned it so much in reviews of all her other books that she got the message. 🙂 There were a couple of winks but that was all. LOL

      I enjoyed Rain and thought L.A. did a really good job on the characters and the plot. I did understand Dustin’s doubts in RoE but what I couldn’t take was that for most of the book he kept denying his relationship with Brandon to everyone, even though he knew how much Brandon loved him. He kept hurting him and I think he might have even left him at one point for the jerks he called family.

      I don’t mind a bit of angst but I thought that some of it was excessive and indulgent and could have been left on the cutting room floor. I knew that it was a tough decision for him to admit to his family he was not straight but it wasn’t as if he hadn’t been living his own life for 10 years.

      This time, in Rain, we’re in Brandon’s head, not Dustin’s, and it was a completely different place as he made his commitment known from the getgo. But I did miss the kind of sex they had in RoE which was so hot the pages were scorching. 🙂


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I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports - especially baseball
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